This, the most detailed view of the Sun ever captured, is the ‘first light’ image of the National Science Foundation’s new Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. In it, we can see features as small as 30km on the solar surface.
The cell-like structures that fill the telescope’s view are a result of convection flows, whereby the Sun’s internal heat causes plasma to rise in the centre of the cells, before cooling and sinking back down in dark lanes.
Bright specks within the dark cracks are the markers of magnetic fields, channelling energy up into the Sun’s outer layer; its corona.
The image above covers an area 36,500km2, and each cell is about three times the area of the UK.
Here’s a zoomed-in version of the image that provides an even closer look at the detail on the surface of the Sun.
Would you like to capture your own images of the Sun? If so, read Pete Lawrence’s brilliant guide where he reveals how to photograph the Sun.
Observatory Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope
Release date 29 January 2020
Image credit NSO/AURA/NSF